The News-Mail is reporting the comments of a Bargara man who is disappointed that the low chess tables in the main foreshore shelter shed are being removed and advising that they are not used due to poor design and inaccurate layout.

I’ve printed a copy of the article below with my comments in italic blue. A copy of the article on the News-Mail’s site can be accessed here.


Man Says Checkmate To Council

A BARGARA man has said checkmate to the council as he shares the real reason why no-one uses the chess tables on the Bargara foreshore.

On May 5, Division 5 councillor Greg Barnes announced the chess tables would be ripped out.

I don’t know where the emotive term “ripped out’ came from but it certainly wasn’t from me.

“In all the time the streetscape’s been done, I don’t think I’ve ever see anyone play chess there,” Cr Barnes said.

But Bargara man and long-time chess player John West said there was a good reason for that, as the chess boards were laid in the wrong orientation.

“When you put a chess board out to play on, you’ve got to have a white square on the right hand side.”

“Anyone who knows a game of chess knows that,” he said.

As pictured, the chess table at Bargara has a black square on the right had side of both sides of the board.

I accept Mr. West’s advice on this matter however I don’t play chess and this is the first time that I’ve heard of any inaccuracy in the board’s layout.

I have to wonder why he or anyone else aggrieved by the error hasn’t brought it to my attention over the past eleven years since the tables were installed.

Mr West said this was a shocking mistake, emphasised by the tables being bolted into the concrete.

“The problem is, you can’t move them – they’re total idiots,” Mr West said.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, when parkland infrastructure isn’t permanently secured it becomes the target of vandalism and/or theft. I would have thought that a “total idiot” would be the one who leaves this type of community infrastructure unsecured.

“The way they’ve got it, there’s no way you can play chess, it’s just bloody ridiculous.”

Mr West said Cr Barnes comment had infuriated him.

“They obviously made a calamitous error and then said people didn’t play and that’s just ridiculous,” he said.

Despite the ‘calamitous’ nature of this error, I again have to wonder why Mr. West or anyone else hasn’t mentioned this to me before.

“There are chess players in Bargara and tourists would love to play.

The man said he had spoken to chess players of the region and they said they’d definitely play there.

“The council have goofed in a big way, it’s a tourist attraction,” he said.

If Mr. West had  made me aware of the error, I would have had it rectified immediately.

“For goodness sake council, just re-orientate them or scrub them out and repaint them”.

As shown in the photo below, the remaining playing squares are not painted on but are made up of inserted tiles so they can’t be scrubbed out and repainted. Mr. West may also notice that many of the remaining tiles are cracked and that the timber on which they lie is rotting away.

Interestingly, Council was recently approached by an organisation which expressed interest in acquiring the tables, however on inspection, it decided that they were too badly damaged to warrant the cost of restoring them even if they were donated free of charge.

Mr West said he was of the strong opinion the tables would be frequently used for chess and for drafts.

The tables are delapidated and well overdue for replacement as part of Council’s routine maintenance program. The current low-set stools prevent most people from enjoying the ocean view due to the upper timber railing which, for most people, is at eye level.

Instead of replacing ineffective infrastructure on a  like-for-like basis, I’ve suggested that a ‘bar style’ aluminium table be installed at the same height and full length of the railing with higher seating provided which would provide far more enjoyment for a wider range of the community.

To my mind, frank and constructive community feedback (good or bad) is great and important to my role. However it becomes frustrating when people don’t  make the initial effort to contact their representative to express their concerns and to ensure that they have the full facts and background information on an issue before rushing off to the media.

The fact is that neither Mr. West, nor anyone else has ever contacted me about the concerns that he’s now chosen to raise in the public forum.

I’m also mindful that a chess or drafts enthusiast would be likely to have his/her own lightweight portable board which could be used at any one of the many foreshore tables, benches and shelter sheds which should also be available to be enjoyed by the wider community which happens to fund them.

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